Manchester United will begin their 2021/22 Premier League season with a home fixture against rivals Leeds in this eagerly anticipated Saturday lunchtime game. The match kicks off at 12:30PM BST. The game can be watched live in the UK on BT Sport with coverage starting at 11:30PM.
The Red Devils finished second last season 12 points behind our neighbours Manchester City in the table. It is expected that we will be challenging for the Premier League title this season after the progress that had been made under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær in previous seasons. United have announced some big signings during the summer transfer window so far with Jadon Sancho arriving from Borussia Dortmund. Raphael Varane’s official confirmation as our player is expected imminently.
Laying Down A Marker
We will be looking to lay down a marker in the first six league games of the season. United do not face a top-four rival until we meet Leicester City in October. Obviously, there are no easy games in the top-flight. Leeds will prove a tough test to open the league campaign. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjær will expect to pick up a good number of points in the first few weeks as we genuinely look to challenge Manchester City, who will be the team that everyone wants to beat.
Our pre-season had seen us play four friendlies. We secured a 4-0 victory in the last fixture against Everton thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot. We would have played an extra game against Preston North End in pre-season but was called off due to suspected coronavirus cases.
United finished last season without any trophies at the end of it but did make the Europa League final, semi-finals of the EFL Cup and FA Cup quarter-finals. Ole and United will be hoping to go one better this time in the 2021/22 season with a squad more than capable of achieving this.
Manchester United Team News
For United, we are without a number of first-team players due to injury or returning from international duty. Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo are all definitely out for this fixture. Edinson Cavani will also not feature having only returned back to Manchester on Thursday. He had been given an extended summer break to return home.
This is likely to mean that Anthony Martial will be given the number 9 role for the Leeds game. There is a good chance that we may see new summer signing Jadon Sancho make his debut at Old Trafford. Though he may start the game from the bench. If officially announced in time, Raphael Varane could make the bench as well.
Nemanja Matic had a good pre-season and so could be given the nod in the midfield alongside Fred or Donny Van De Beek. Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood are expected to feature and help in the attack alongside Anthony Martial.
Manchester United’s Predicted Lineup
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood; and Martial.
Leeds United finished ninth in their first season back in the Premier League. They proved to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch. They were just two points behind eighth-placed Arsenal, and three points behind seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Marcelo Bielsa’s side were only six points off the Europa League places and were definitely one of the standouts of the promoted teams last season.
Towards the end of last season, their form was impressive having only lost one of their last eleven matches. Victories in their last four league games saw them finish inside the top half of the table. The expectations for this side will rise ahead of the new season as they look to be even better, which brings its own added pressure.
Leeds have brought in Junior Firpo and Kristoffer Klaesson during this summer transfer window. Jack Harrison has also made his permanent move to the club from Manchester City. It is expected that more signings will arrive before the transfer window closes.
The results in their pre-season have not been as good as they wanted. Leeds played six times with one win, two draws and three defeats. They come into the game at Old Trafford after their 2-2 draw against Villarreal. However, you cannot read too much into a team’s pre-season form.
Leeds Team News
For our opponents, Marcelo Bielsa confirmed during his press conference ahead of the game that defender Junior Firpo is available for selection again. Diego Llorente will not feature, which means Robin Koch is likely to line up in the heart of the defence alongside Liam Cooper.
Stuart Dallas and Rodrigo Moreno could be given the nod in the midfield alongside Kalvin Phillips. Patrick Bamford will spearhead the Leeds attack with support coming from Raphinha and Jack Harrison.
Manchester United Pre-Season Friendlies form: WLDW
Leeds Pre-Season Friendlies form: WDLLLD
- Manchester United’s 6-2 home victory against Leeds last season included 42 attempts on goal – the most in a Premier League match in 2020-21. (source: BBC Sport)
- Manchester United became only the third top-flight club to remain unbeaten away from home last season (W12, D7), emulating Preston North End in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2001-02 and 2003-04. (source: BBC Sport)
- Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in a league-high 45 goals since his debut on 1 February 2020, scoring 26 times and providing 19 assists. (BBC Sport)
Leeds will prove a tough opening test for United as we bid to mount a challenge for the title this season. We won last season’s fixture at Old Trafford 6-2 as the opposition left gaps in their defence for us to exploit. For this game, I expected Leeds to certainly have an eye on being a bit more defensive to stifle our attack. However, we have more than enough quality in our attack that should see us over the line and get the victory.
Manchester United 2-1 Leeds United